Sunday, August 21, 2016

on the necessity of self-care.


As I sat at the edge of the hospital bed, a nurse beginning her shift came in to see if I needed anything else before I was wheeled out. I was being discharged.

Being discharged from a hospital is such a bittersweet moment. I was no longer going to be seconds away from a nurse or a doctor--carefully monitoring my heartbeat, blood pressure, and state of mind. But I was happy to be heading back to my home and my bed and my dog and my safe space, but sometimes, in the moments of panic, my hospital room was the safest place I could be. I was hesitant but confident that home is where I needed to be.

“Take care of yourself, okay?”

I glanced at the nurse who was waving goodbye with a careful, small smile.

“I’ll do my best!” I said, feigning enthusiasm as the elevator doors closed. Back to reality we went. I sighed deeply. Not sure myself if it was a sigh of relief or anxiety.

Take care of myself? Easy for her to say. I have so many other things that I need to do and taking time out of my life to specifically focus on the care and keeping of myself was low on the totem pole.

I was just never super great at taking care of myself. Self-care was a necessity that I knew I needed and preached that others needed it, but when it came to myself-- I was a big-time slacker.

The guilt that comes with self-care is the greatest obstacle for me. What else could I be doing--for work, for my family, for my friends, for the betterment of my house--instead of taking a nap, painting my nails, taking an hour to go browse at Target? What else could I be doing that’s less selfish? Less self-centered? The guilt. The guilt. The guilt.

When I arrived home from the hospital, I immediately grabbed my laptop and began to check my e-mail. My husband looked at me like I was an insane person. “What the HELL are you doing? Go lay down!” He took the computer out of my hands and embraced it with both arms, holding it tight against his chest.

“You are not doing anything today except resting and eating the food you love and watching that Real Housewive stuff. Go. Lay. Down.”

All of the arguments I had against his demands started to crawl up my throat--fire that would spew out my mouth and burn away all of his reasonings. I needed to catch up on work. I needed to get my life organized after this mess of a month. My life was in proverbial shambles. I needed to get it in order right now. I looked back at him, a scowl spread on my face. I looked away from the sweet face of my husband and tried to see his side for a moment.

Laying down in my bed would feel pretty nice and I did have a couple new episodes of Real Housewives on the DVR AND I could really go for a slice of pizza. Wow, self-care actually sounded pretty amazing. I reflected back on what a nightmare the past month had been and allowed myself to feel deserving of rest.

I conceded.

That first night home from the hospital was one of the best I can remember. I logged off from the world, snuggled up next to my husband and pup--feeling a little achey, but happy--and cared for myself.

I slept and read a book for fun (literally have not done this in so long and it’s hard to admit that) and just filled my tank back up. I practiced self-care and it felt so good.

I woke up the next morning, refreshed and renewed. I had energy and a clear-mind. I tackled some tasks, checked my e-mail and didn’t feel overwhelmed or drained or so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My body may have been worn and torn and slowly repairing, but my mind was awake and alert and healthy.

After weeks of depression and anxiety and sleep-stealing worries, I relaxed a little bit. I could be a present wife. I could be an efficient employee. I could be a good listener for my friends. A few moments of self-care had made me a better person, and I could properly and effectively care for others.

When you’re getting ready to take off on an airplane, the flight attendants demonstrate and reiterate that if the cabin pressure should change, an oxygen mask will fall from the ceiling. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then proceed to help anyone else who needs assistance putting their oxygen mask on. You need to be breathing and awake and alert before you can help anyone else who is struggling. I am not saying that you need to completely have your life together or else you’ll never be able to help anyone else--it’s actually the opposite of that.

We all need to go through the depths of hell in this life. We all need to experience tragedy. We all need to trip and stumble and feel the excruciating pain that life can pile upon us.

We all need to feel.

Because when we feel--we empathize. And relate. And bond. And listen. And we help others.

We fall. We practice self-care. And then we build ourselves back up and help build up others up along the way.

We have to practice self-care because we cannot properly care for others if we don’t.

Mediate for five minutes.
Treat yourself to a manicure.
Have a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
Pray.
Take a nap.
Take a breath.

Practice loving your body and your mind and your soul. Care for yourself like you do for all of the people you love in your life. Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself rest. Let yourself breathe. Let yourself practice self-care.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

On Why We All Need To Dance Anyway.



It was a Friday night. I was 19. And so excited for this party that all of my friends had been talking about since Monday. Word on the street was that it was going to be “EPIC”!

You could hear the thumping bass of the music before we even got around the corner. We pulled up to the curb, and I gazed through the dirty cab window. People were pouring out of the house and onto the front porch and yard. Empty red solo cups decorated the walkway up the house. You could smell the beer bong residue from where I stood. It was shaping up to be the kind of party that everyone had been gushing about all week.

I took a deep breath, ready to embark on this night, wobbled in my heels up the walkway and crept into the crowded foyer. Within seconds, I found myself alone. My girlfriends had disbanded throughout the house, and I retreated to a corner in a back room where people were dancing to “Get Low.”

Flo.Rida reverberated throughout the room as a sipped on some stale, watered-down beer from an old keg. I sighed deeply and cursed myself for getting roped into coming to this place. Disappointed, I contemplated how long I was going to stay at this “epic” party before I called a cab to come get me. The couples dancing in front of me were getting more and more comfortable with each other as the alcohol kept flowing through their systems, and I recognized a familiar face in the crowd --my recently deemed “ex” boyfriend.

He was swaying and swinging his hips with a very pretty blonde girl who probably went to hot yoga on Sunday mornings and drank green smoothies for dinner. (“They get rid of all the toxins!”). I watched in horror as she slipped her perfectly polished hand behind his neck and pulled his face closer to hers. Their lips connected, and my freshly wounded heart slumped down into my stomach. My eyes felt heavy with a wall of tears, but I held them back. I was not going to cry here. I would bawl into snot-filled Kleenx in the comfort of my dorm room, thank you very much. I threw back the last of my drink and prepared to call a cab. As I whipped out my flip phone, I felt a hand on the small of my back.

It was my roommate. Her long black hair fell perfectly in front of her face and she smiled wide--her teeth glowing between bright pink lips.

“I love this song! Come dance with me!”

I tried to say no. I tried to get out of her grip. I had already planned my pity party back at my dorm. It was time for pajamas and salty-tears and ice cream and “The Notebook.” Dancing was the last thing I wanted to do.

But she wasn’t taking no for an answer.

She grabbed my hand and pulled me into the crowd of sweaty bodies already busting a move--my ex boyfriend included. She bounced up and down and left and right and started dancing like a complete fool. I felt the corners of my mouth start to curl and before I knew it, I was laughing and dancing and smiling. I was loving the moment. The party was a complete bust, but I was going to dance anyway.




For the past couple of months, life has not been the party that I have always hoped it to be, or sometimes even willed it to be.

I have blacked out from a broken heart. The loss so palpable that I collapsed onto my knees, a shattered woman, and cursed at God in a way I never have before.

I’ve spent nights in a hospital bed while a phlebotomist (who might have needed some extra days of training, maybe?) dug a needle into my tiny veins trying to figure out why my blood just never cooperates. I cringed with each twinge of the needle, praying that it would all end soon. Dreaming of being at home in my bed and not cooped up in a hospital bed while my poor parents and brother and husband took shifts keeping me company--themselves totally drained of spirit while my guilt thickened.

I’ve looked into my husband’s eyes as we both cowered in sadness.

I’ve wondered, “How is there hope for us when we’re both so depleted? Who will help us both rise up out of the dirt?”

For the past couple of months, I’ve been tired. I’ve been exasperated. I’ve been beaten down. I’ve been so absolutely hopeless and helpless and out of sorts. I’ve closed my eyes, prayed for the healing of my heart, my husband’s heart, and the heart of every single one of my loved ones who were also in so much pain. It’s been a really tough couple of months. I don’t really know how else to say it. I laid in bed a lot and tried to sleep away the pain. Dreams would take me away for a bit, but when I woke, the aches remained. I felt like we’d be stuck forever.

Right when we both started to see some light at the end of the tunnel, the universe said, “LOL JK!” and threw us another unhittable curveball. We struck out. Over and over and over again.

One Friday night, Jeremiah and I were finally back home. The dust had truly begun to settle, but we weren’t going to say that out loud in fear of a jinx. We cautiously sat in silence and hoped for some respite. There were no more hospitals. No more doctors. Just our humble little house, our vivacious but gentle pup, and our hearts that beat only for each other. We felt hopeful. We felt okay.

Jeremiah went upstairs to go play some guitar, experiment with his new pedals and allow himself to get lost in his creativity that has always left me in awe. I decided to put on Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and let myself enjoy something that I have always loved--Queen B.
As “Formation” started bumping through our speakers, a jolt of energy shot up through my feet. My head was bobbing. My feet were tapping. And I was up off the couch and dancing as Beyonce told me to get in formation. I obliged.

I let myself be free. I let my body be free. I let my heart and my mind and my spirit dance. I let myself feel happy. I let myself feel ease. Life had beaten me down to a pulp, but I was going to dance anyway. My body had battled against me, but I was going to dance anyway. The path that Jeremiah and I had plotted for ourselves didn’t turn out how we expected, but we danced anyway. I needed to get up out of bed and dance anyway. Life may not always be the party that we had hoped for, but we need to dance anyway. And dance we will.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

choosing joy.


As I was perusing Pinterest (as one does on any given weeknight), I came across a beautiful pin in gorgeous typography that said, “Today, I choose joy.” I thought to myself, “PSH YEAH OKAY EASIER SAID THAN DONE, INSPIRATIONAL PINTEREST QUOTE.” My jaded and tired mind just couldn’t really understand that kind of declaration. How do we choose joy when things are so not joyful? Like yeah sure, life is an absolute mess, but lemme go ahead and choose joy for a second.

The dog just threw up all over the house. CHOOSE JOY.
You lost your job. CHOOSE JOY.
Your sick in bed and can’t breathe through your nose. CHOOSE JOY.
You have anxiety, depression, or some other mental disorder. CHOOSE JOY.

“HOW ABOUT NO!!!” I screamed (internally) at my laptop. You go ahead and you go choose your joy, Pinterest, and go paint some cabinets with chalk paint while you’re at it!
But what was I really mad about? Was I mad and annoyed that this quote was telling me to do something that I felt was impossible? Or was I mad because I knew it was possible, but I couldn’t get there?

Sometimes, it’s so hard to find that silver lining in the tarnish of life. It get so dirty and dingy and messy that we get jaded and tired and blase about what life is really about--joy.

We’re here to work hard and go through trials and tribulations and make mistakes, but we’re also here to love deeply and laugh hard and smile. We’re here to build relationships and do random acts of kindness and take trips. We’re here to cuddle and wonder and believe in something bigger than ourselves. We’re here to be joyful. We’re here to be happy.

We have friends and moms and dad and husbands and wives and children and coworkers and church members and teammates who are there to help us be happy. We have cute little pups named Miles. We have outlets to write, play music, make art, and express ourselves. We have freshly-brewed coffee and sales at J.Crew and new episodes of House of Cards. We have giant walls filled with purple flowers. Little or small. We have glimpses of joy everywhere.

So yeah, life can get pretty rough. I’m not dismissing that at all. I have seen so much pain. Not just in my own life but in the lives of those close to me--and even when their lives were in the darkest of places, they still chose joy. They still chose to smile and laugh and trust in others.

So why can’t I do the same? Some days are going to be easier than others, but finding one little glimmer of happiness in a less-than-perfect day is still something to be proud of. We need to choose joy. And keep choosing it. Every single day.


Friday, February 19, 2016

being tired and being happy.



Jeremiah and I decided to film our lives for awhile, which is the main reason why I have fallen off the face of this blog's earth, but once I decided that it wasn't something I was 100% comfortable doing--he stopped editing. Now notice I said, editing. He's still been filming and taking little glimpses of our lives here and there, but now the creativity stops after he loads the footage onto his hard drive. I wish he didn't, and I even told him that I would continue to be a part of them in some capacity, but when my "gung-ho" attitude died; so did his. It's a shame really because I loved those videos. Selfishly, I want him to continue because I loved re-watching them--little snippets of our lives rolled into 5 minutes set to some dance pop song. Life looks so good when it's like that.

But as we all know, life is definitely not a montage of moments cut to a dance pop song.

Life is headaches and heartache and stress and worry and so much work.
Life is driving here and making sure to be at that thing there and planning and going and going and going.

We're all so tired. 

Literally every person I come in contact with on a daily basis is just one word: tired.

And this is when I start to wonder to myself, "Self, why am I so damn tired all the time? Why are my friends all so tired? Why is my husband tired? My coworkers? My parents? My pup, Miles?"

As I wonder and worry and wish that I could make it all better for everyone, I start to gain clarity as to why. It's because we're all just trying so hard to be the best possible version of ourselves that we can.

We're all wanting to be happy and in order to happy, we have to work and be tired and pay our dues and run on fumes for awhile. I think maybe we need to be tired in order to appreciate the happy, right? What good would happiness do if we didn't suffer a little? We'd all take it for granted even more than we're all guilty of sometimes doing now.

This past weekend, Jeremiah and I were brainstorming what we should do to celebrate Valentine's Day. We thought about dinner, but meh, we were (you guessed it!) too tired to go anywhere!

We thought about going out to a movie, but UGH, so much effort. Even if we would have mustered up the strength to go out on Valentine's Day, the plans would have be thwarted due to the random blizzard that came rolling into town--so instead, we bundled up and took our adorable pup on a walk around the neighborhood.

It took about 10 minutes of convincing (on Jere's part) to get me to go.

"Wait, you want me to go WHERE and do WHAT?" The thought of going to a restaurant while I sit and people served me food sounded exhausting and now you want me to go outside and WALK? Boy, you must be tripping!

But his cute smile and "please, baby" attitude, finally convinced me to strap on my snow boots and go.

And I am so glad I did.

Yes, I was tired and completely unmotivated and dreaded being outside, but then the snow was falling so quietly. And Miles was digging his snout in the snow and coming up for air with flakes all over his nose in the cutest way possible, and Jeremiah was taking photographs and grinning from ear to ear. And I was happy.

Tired.
But happy.

What makes you happy? Do more of it.
What makes you tired? Do more of it.

Be tired and be happy. I think I've decided that we can't be one without the other.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

vlogging.



If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, G+ (It's still a thing, believe it or not!)--then you know that my husband and I released our first "episode" for our vlog that we have started. To get back to basics, a "vlog" is a video blog. So you know how I love to write and pour my emotions out onto the page and just bleed all the feels? My boss has been bugging me for months to start a YouTube channel with my husband. He has a YouTube channel of his own, loves to vlog and really wants to spread the YouTube love and create a little vlogging community at our office. Since he is so damn persuasive, I jumped on board and pulled Jeremiah, my husband, along with me.

And he is into it. He even bought a selfie stick today.

I've created a monster.

All joking aside, we had a blast filming and editing our first vlog. It was goofy and choppy and we're still learning so much about the science behind a great vlog, but we're having so much fun.

This whole vlogging thing is pretty wonderful on a multitude of levels.

First, I love to write. Jeremiah mixes up "your" and "you're." Jeremiah is an extremely talented musician. I tried to play the ukulele for about 10 days and quit because I have no coordination/rhythm. We're both pretty creative souls, but this is the first project we've come across in our whole relationship that we can work on together and be passionate about together. That's really exciting for a boring old married couple.

Secondly, as I'm sure most of you know, we're working on our baby bucket list, right? I try my damnedest to write in as much detail and depth as I can to paint a picture for not only you guys, the readers, but for Jere and I--so that we can keep these memories fresh, but what better way to do that than some new-age home movies?

We're not doing this to get "famous" or to become the next like, Jenna Marbles, we just want to share our lives with people and have fun while we do it! I will still be posting on my blog (even though I've been slacking like WHOA lately), but I hope we get more vlogs on the books too. I really just want to thank everyone for being so supportive of my blog and our vlog and all the other adventures that I get myself into.

Stay tuned!